Dezeen's top 10 biggest architecture and design stories of 2016

In the final instalment of our review of 2016, editor Amy Frearson recaps the 10 most read stories of the year, including the completion of a tiny, prefabricated mobile house, the death of Zaha Hadid and Bjarke Ingels' design for the Serpentine Pavilion.


Zaha Hadid dies following a heart attack

The loss of Zaha Hadid in March was by far the biggest news of 2016. As one of the world's most famous architects, her sudden death caused an outcry from architects and designers all around the world.

Rem Koolhaas described her as "a combination of beauty and strength", while Norman Foster paid tribute to her "courage, conviction and tenacity". Dezeen later worked with Architizer to produce a memorial video, with contributions from Patrik Schumacher, Richard Rogers, Amanda Levete and Bjarke Ingels.

Hadid also topped our 2016 Dezeen Hot List, an index of the people and topics that our readers most wanted to read about this year.

Read more about the death of Zaha Hadid ›

Crystal House by MVRDV

MVRDV replaces Chanel store's traditional facade with glass bricks that are "stronger than concrete"

MVDRV captured the imagination of many Dezeen readers back in April, when it showcased a pioneering glass technology. The project, called Crystal Houses, helped propel MVRDV to ninth place in our Dezeen Hot List and involved replacing the brick facade of a former Amsterdam townhouse with a transparent replica, more suited to the building's new use as a Chanel boutique.

The architects later released a video showing how the glass bricks, windows frames and architraves were put together, with the use of a transparent high-strength glue.

Find out more about Crystal Houses ›

Jungle House, Guarujá, São Paulo, Brazil, by Studio MK27

World Building of the Year 2016 shortlist announced

The third-most popular story of 2016 was the announcement of the shortlist for awards at the World Architecture Festival, helped by the stunning photographs of one building in particular – a house in a Brazilian rainforest.

The project that later went on to win the prestigious World Building of the Year prize was a subterranean museum in Poland with a huge public space on its roof, described by its architect as part building, part topography.

Find out more about World Architecture Festival 2016 ›


Hypnotic gifs animate traditional Japanese joinery techniques

Timber joints slot together in these Tetris-like gifs – the work of a young Japanese man so obsessed by joinery techniques he set up a Twitter account dedicated to the cause.

Named The Joinery, the account bills itself as the complete 3D guide to Japanese joinery styles.

Find out more about The Joinery ›

Photograph by Matthew Joseph

Patrik Schumacher calls for social housing and public space to be scrapped

Zaha Hadid Architects director Patrik Schumacher caused huge controversy when, last month, he presented his solution to London's housing crisis, which involved getting rid of regulations, privatising all public space and scrapping social housing.

Dezeen columnist Phineas Harper called for the industry to stop paying attention to Schumacher, while developer Roger Zogolovitch declared support for some of the architect's ideas. Schumacher himself was forced to admit his regret about the outcome of the speech, which was disowned by both the firm and Hadid's friends and family.

Find out more about Patrik Schumacher's speech ›

Serpentine Galley Pavilion 2016 by Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels' Serpentine Gallery Pavilion conceived as an "unzipped wall"

BIG founder Bjarke Ingels, who came second to Zaha Hadid in our Dezeen Hot List, proved to be a popular choice for the 2016 Serpentine Pavilion: the renderings of his proposals revealed in February went on to become the sixth most popular story of the year.

Ingels unveiled his completed pavilion in June. In an exclusive interview with Dezeen, he described it as "mountainous outside and cavernous inside".

Find out more about the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion ›


Architects "are never taught the right thing" says 2016 Pritzker laureate Alejandro Aravena

It was a busy year for Chilean architect and Elemental founder Alejandro Aravena, who won the Pritzker Prize and curated the Venice Architecture Biennale.

His most read story on Dezeen was an exclusive interview, in which Aravena - who was ranked 14th in our Dezeen Hot List - claimed that universities are failing to give architects the training needed to enable them to find solutions for an imminent global housing crisis.

Read our exclusive interview with Alejandro Aravena ›

My Micro NY by nArchitects

Photos released of New York's first micro-apartment tower by nArchitects

One of the year's biggest architecture stories was the unveiling of a modular, micro-unit residential building in New York, intended as a model for cities facing an affordable housing crisis.

Designed by American firm nArchitects, the nine-storey Carmel Place building contains 55 units that range in size from 23 to 34 square metres (250 to 370 square feet).

Find out more about Carmel Place ›

Kodasema creates tiny prefabricated house that moves with its owners

Kodasema creates tiny prefabricated house that moves with its owners

Another prefabricated home also proved popular in 2016 – this tiny box-like house was designed by Estonian collective Kodasema to allow its residents to up sticks and move to a new location in less than a day.

Named KODA, the mobile house prototype contains an open-plan living space and mezzanine bedroom within its 25-square-metre footprint (269 square feet), and also includes a built-in terrace in front of its glazed frontage.

Find out more about KODA ›

Anish Kapoor gets rights to blackest pigment

Anish Kapoor receives exclusive rights to blackest black in the world

The news that artist Anish Kapoor acquired exclusive rights to the revolutionary Vantablack pigment – said to be the blackest shade of black ever created – completes our list of the top 10 architecture and design stories of 2016.

Kapoor is currently the only person in the world allowed to paint using this colour, and has been doing so since 2014.

Find about more about Anish Kapoor and Vantablack ›